Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Cost of Freedom

When I was in college and in my early twenties, I had very little financial experience.  I am by no means an expert now, but I have most definitely learned a lesson or two the hard way.

When you're young, and perhaps less wise, you can look at a credit card as a doorway to freedom.  Freedom to have what you want now without having to wait.  What you don't realize is that freedom comes with a cost.  That cost is called interest.  For example, if you have a credit card with an annual percentage rate of 27.24% this is the reality of what can happen if you don't pay it off monthly.

Amount Due: $1467.61
Total Minimum Payment Due:  $25.00
Payment Due Date:  2/12

If you make the minimum payment only for 10 years, you will pay a total of $3558.00 for your $1467.61 in purchases.  That also assumes that over the next 10 years, you don't use the card again.  That translates to paying an extra $2090.39 for what you bought.

Now, if you make a payment of $60 for 3 years, you will pay $2164.00, assuming you never use the card again.  And while this is less than the previous example, it is still $696.39 more than what you bought is worth.

So why am I sharing this?

Freedom has a cost.  Our freedom from sin and the law came with cost of Jesus' life.  He didn't only make minimum monthly payments or even slightly more than minimum monthly payments.  He gave it all when the time was due.  He decided that payment in full was worth it because you and I were worth it.

The reality of what this has meant in my life came through reading Ann Voskamp's new book, The Broken Way.  She puts forth the concept that we are to die a thousand little deaths in the giving of ourselves for others.  So, what does that look like, to die to self, to lay down your life for another, to share in the sufferings of Christ?

I can't answer what it means for you, I can only tell you what it means for me.

It means begging God to help me in my struggle with my love of food.  It means allowing the power that rose Jesus from the grave that is in me to empower me to walk away.  It means letting my husband, kids, family members, friends, and those in my circle of influence see that God can, and does, work miracles in our lives.  It means deciding that giving up what I love for what I love more is worth it.  It means not walking around in defeat, berating myself with my words, and looking in a mirror frustrated.  It is deciding it is not worth my daughter's heart to have her think feeling this way about yourself is okay.

Because here's the reality.  My 'freedom' to choose what I want, when I want it, and why I want it, has a higher cost than I am willing to pay.  My choices effect my energy, my attitude, my willingness, my self-esteem, my thoughts, my feelings, my behavior.  And each of those areas has an effect on everyone around me.  If I am in a lousy mood because my jeans are tighter than I want them to be and I snap on my kids because I'm upset with myself, that's a real life consequence that I have decided is no longer worth it.

I don't know where you need to die to self, but I'd be willing to bet that you do, or that if you asked God to show you, He would.  We each have our crosses to carry.  Mine happens to be in the shape of the things I love that aren't good for me.  And if the greatest display of love is laying down our lives for a friend, then dying to self in this struggle is most definitely worth the lives of those I love.  I want them to see that this light and momentary trouble is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed.

Jesus, how you so willingly laid down your life for us while we were still sinners I will never comprehend.  Help us to die to ourselves.  Reveal to us the crosses You have lovingly given us to carry so that we can be closer to You and draw others to You.  With the Spirit You have graciously given us, empower us to walk in victory, one step at a time.  We ask all of this in your life giving name, amen.

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